GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)--Things got heated at a debate between the four republican candidates looking to be the nominee to challenge Tammy Baldwin for Herb Kohl's Senate Seat.
The debate, broadcast live on WTAQ 1360, showed just how contentious the race has gotten, with the candidates turning on one-another, attacking each other over the negative ads.
Eric Hovde, the Hedge Fund Manager who moved to Wisconsin last year after spending 24 years working in Washington DC, has been the subject of negative ads, as have Mark Neumann and Tommy Thompson. Jeff Fitzgerald has yet to run ads.
"Every single one of the attack ads have been complete distortions," said Hovde, in response to a question.
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson pointed at Hovde as the reason the race turned negative.
"I thought we were going to have a positive campaign even Eric Hovde said the last time we had a debate, I'm going to be positive, he was the first one to run a negative campaign," said Thompson.
Mark Neumann pointed to a recent ad of Hovde's, that shows Hovde dodging mud.
"The folks in Wisconsin are brighter than what Eric Hovde is trying to lead us to believe here, the mud ad you have on TV now is about as negative an ad as I've ever seen," said Neumann.
While Assembly speaker Fitzgerald stayed out of the personal attacks.
"This is what people get fed up, I believe we should be focused on the issues, and I also believe we should be focused on Tammy Baldwin," said Fitzgerald.
After about 20 minutes of the back and forth over the negative ads the candidates did turn to the issues.
They discussed their plans to balance the budget, all agreeing that federal spending must be cut and Obama Care repealed.
Eric Hovde attempted to separate himself from the other three candidates, calling himself a citizen legislator.
"I've spent my life in the private sector, building companies, turning around companies and operating in our global financial markets, and creating a lot of Wisconsin jobs as well as jobs across the country," said Hovde.
Former congressman Mark Neumann talked about his plan to balance the federal budget, which includes cutting 1.4 trillion in spending.
"30 years of business in Wisconsin, creating Wisconsin jobs, coupled with four years in Washington DC, where the political courage was tested and we stood the ground and we won the battle, we actually got to balanced a budget , cut taxes, and restored an economy," said Neumann.
Thompson who's been considered the least conservative in the race proceeded to argue against that point.
"I was governor for 14 years, create 742,000 jobs with the business community, cut taxes 91 times, reform, Eric says has the only one talking about entitlement reform, I'm the only one that reformed an entitlement program and got rid of it," said Thompson, referring to the Welfare program.
State assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald who has trailed in the polls from the beginning, wasn't the target of any attacks, instead boasting about his role in passing ACT 10.
"If you are looking for a battle tested conservative, I'm the guy, I'm the walker conservative in this race," said Fitzgerald.
The moderator, conservative radio host Jerry Bader of WTAQ couldn't determine a clear winner from the debate.
"There are clear differences between them and clear strengths and weakness," said Bader, "you saw a lot of the feistiness, and I'm not surprised by that."
Bader said it's clear all of the candidates are conservative and it's time they move past that issue.
"The advertising that suggests some are liberal I think is unfortunate and I think it's ridiculous," said Bader.
The candidates will face off in one more debate before the August 14 primary. It will be televised next Friday, August 10.
The winner of the primary will face Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, the democratic nominee.